Why Narcissists Love to Rage – The Psychology of Narcissistic Rage
“No one can tell you all that love is, but I can tell you what it isn’t. One thing that I’ve found to be true is that REAL LOVE doesn’t hurt – at all. And when you are hurting, it’s not from a place of love! Don’t confuse the two.” ~Tony Gaskins, Jr. on Toxic Love, The Daily Love
Understanding Narcissistic Rage
If you’ve ever lived with, known, or loved a narcissist, you have likely been the victim of narcissistic rage, a term first introduced in a 1972 book entitled The Analysis of the Self.
This kind of rage manifests when a narcissist vents his frustration when their ego takes a hit. Since narcissists have an inflated level of self-importance, they often find it hard to deal with criticism, real or perceived. So, if you or someone else happens to insult the narcissist’s fragile ego, you can expect a serious backlash – and it’s not going to be pretty.
If you’re currently in a toxic relationship involving a narcissist, it’s important that you understand these narcissistic rages and why they happen – and even if you’ve already left your narcissist, it might help you to understand WHY you were treated the way you were – because truly, it wasn’t (and ISN’T) your fault.
What is narcissistic rage?
Often coupled with narcissistic injury, narcissistic rage is used by a narcissist when they know they’re wrong but won’t admit it, or when they don’t get what they want, or when people don’t treat them different or more special than others, or when their sense of entitlement is threatened – anytime things don’t go their way. This is when narcissists get inconsolably angry in an attempt to bully or coerce you into giving them what they want.
Why causes a narcissist to rage?
Psychologists have identified several typical causes for narcissistic behavior and personalities, including a general obsession with self, often gained through certain experiences during childhood. They often have an addiction to anger, and as they rage, it’s often because of a blow to their inflated sense of self-esteem.
They may often make self-deprecating statements, no doubt silently begging you to disagree with them and tell them how amazing, beautiful, wonderful, and perfect they REALLY are…and when you don’t, the rage could begin.
As I said, a narcissistic rage often launches when narcs become defensive because they think you’re insulting them (or if you attempted to communicate a problem or concern about your relationship with one). They may also be caused when a narcissist finds himself feeling unfulfilled and blames the victim/target for that feeling. The narcissist feels powerful when they rage at you, and they’re not likely to stop until their requirements are met – or until they get bored or tired of it.
What if the narcissist doesn’t get what they want when they rage?
As we’ve previously discussed, narcissists believe that by appearing perfect, they can get the love, admiration, attention, and/or respect they feel they deserve. But when they think that someone feels they’re “not perfect” or “not good enough,” they often find themselves feeling shameful or anxious. Sometimes this can manifest as guilt or anger.
In any case, when a narcissist’s self-esteem takes a hit, they might react in a number of ways on a broad spectrum—anywhere from just being mildly irritated all the way to having seriously explosive tantrums that can even become violent in some cases.
This kind of “narcissistic injury” causes the narcissist to need to destroy the perceived threat to his self-esteem, and by raging against the offender/victim, the narcissist is able to feel safe and powerful again—and like he or she has total control over the environment.
What is narcissistic injury?
Narcissistic injury is displayed when a narcissist gets upset, hurt, or offended about being treated like a normal person, or when they don’t get special treatment or favors, or literally anytime they don’t get what they want. In most cases, this is a manipulation tactic often used in combination with narcissistic rage to get what they want from a target. It can also be a clear indication of the narcissist’s struggling self-esteem, but most often, it’s simply a type of “victim act” used to get what they want.
Are there different types of narcissistic rage?
There are three primary types of narcissistic rage, including explosive rage, passive-aggressive rage, and rage that causes self-harm.
Explosive Narcissistic Rage
An explosive rage happens when a narcissist has a violent outburst, whether it’s physical or verbal. This is the most obvious kind of narcissistic rage, but since the narcissist usually uses this type of rage behind closed doors, only those closest to the narcissist actually see it. However, in rare cases, the narcissist may explode in public (think: your average “Karen,” for example).
Passive-Aggressive Narcissistic Rage
Narcissists express passive-aggressive rage as a way to passively punish you. They might do this by ignoring you, by being blatantly rude, or even by doing nice things for another person and flaunting them in your face. In any case, you’ll know it’s happening, and the narcissist will feel perfectly fine with telling you you’re crazy and pretending they’re not doing anything at all. In some cases, they might even be so bold as to inform you of your infraction and require you to submit to the punishment willingly in order to make your way back into their good graces.
Self-Harm and Narcissistic Rage
When a narcissist manifests his rage through self-harm, you might not understand what’s happening. It doesn’t seem consistent with the narcissist’s personality– but it DOES get them plenty of attention. Some narcissists have been known to cut, burn or even stab themselves, among other extreme self-injuries, during a narcissistic rage.
Have you been the victim of a narcissistic rage? How did you handle it? What would you tell a friend or loved one who was dealing with a narcissist on a regular basis?
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
The good news is that you’re not alone here. Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.
- Sign up for our free email newsletter service that includes a free guided recovery experience via your inbox.
- Start your narcissistic abuse recovery here with our free narcissistic abuse recovery support system and program.
- Think you might have C-PTSD but you’re not sure? Take our free C-PTSD Self-Assessment.
- Join one of our free online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups!
- Join one of our private small coaching groups!
- Get private, one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery coaching or counseling.
- You might enjoy my book, Your Love is My Drug: How to Shut Down a Narcissist, Detoxify Your Relationships & Live the Awesome Life You Really Deserve, Starting Right Now.
- Get a therapist who will work with you online. Check out our guide to finding a therapist or psychologist who understands narcissism and narcissistic abuse.
- Narcissistic Rage and Narcissistic Injury: What You Need to Know
- Narcissism in Relationships: How to Deal When a Toxic Relationship Damages Your Self-Esteem
- Toxic Relationship Red Flags: 7 Side-Effects of Low Self-Esteem That Can Kill You
- Narcissists in Relationships: The Shocking Truth on Who’s the Drug and Who’s the Addict